“Tigran Hamasyan won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition in 2006, but the music that resonates even deeper for him is centuries removed — and a sound world away — from jazz.
Hamasyan’s new album, Luys I Luso (Light from Light), is an arresting exploration of ancient sacred music from his native Armenia. But there’s a twist. Hamasyan merges the old chants and sharakans (hymns) with improvisational, jazz-inflected piano. The results are mysterious yet modern, as if a choir of 5th century monks interrupted Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert.
In some songs, Hamasyan’s piano simply paints harmonic backdrops; in others, he interlaces improvisations, inspired by jazz and the ancient music at hand. The piano parts are never written out, so Hamasyan’s performances sound fresh each time.“